Clause 2 — Restriction on voting rights

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:29 am on 6th March 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 10:29 am, 6th March 2015

I have my own Michael Foot story. I will come to it in a minute, but first I wish to support the Bill, which will make a vital change to support the integrity of mutual financial services and the insurance sector.

I echo the tributes that Jonathan Evans paid to all those involved, and I should mention Mutuo and Peter Hunt, who have been crucial in ensuring that the Bill’s details are right.

The Bill will provide a more level playing field for the sector, so that it can cope with difficult circumstances that might call on capital in the future. The creation of the deferred share facility is very important and does not jeopardise the fundamental values of these institutions, which are so vital to preserve the integrity of organisations that are owned and controlled for the benefit of their members. That is an important principle. It would be a great shame if that alternative model disappeared and we were dominated by the monoculture of the plc shareholder structure. This important Bill could bring the extra capital that we need into the sector, while safeguarding against demutualisation and risks to the sector.

I had not realised that the hon. Gentleman stood against Michael Foot at the outset of his career. When I was a mere stripling—I know that hon. Members think that I still am—my father wrote to Michael Foot because he knew that I was interested in parliamentary procedure for my first degree. By return of post, to complete strangers, Michael Foot sent his own signed copy of “Erskine May”. The generosity of a great parliamentarian and bibliophile was overwhelming. I regarded that as one of the key spurs that made me get involved in politics, and here we are today. Some people may regret that, but I regard it as a mark of the man.

The hon. Member for Cardiff North mentioned the beginning of his career, and he has had an important political career in this place. The House will be worse for his departure, but whatever may happen in the future, I wish him well. This Bill will be useful testimony to his support for the sector. I urge the Minister to tell us when the starting gun will be fired on the regulations, because the Bill facilitates a great change, but that does not necessarily mean that it will actually happen.